It’s the first week of March and the weather is already sunnier and warmer. Yay! It’s  a rare alignment of dates and weather. Shouldn’t get too excited – it’ll probably be snowing by the end of the week. We have broad beans in this week, a preview of summer to come. You can of course steam then toss them with garlic and chili and stir through pasta for a super quick meal. Go one calorie- tastic step further and sauté them with pancetta and stir in cream, pasta and plenty of pasta for absolute heaven on a plate.

As it’s nearly summer 😉 I made a salad with this week’s white cabbage. It’s a sort of coleslaw I suppose. I shredded the cabbage finely and mixed it with a few finely diced carrots – half and half roughly. Steam the beans and toast the same volume of pumpkin seeds. The dressing is yogurt based and instead of honey for sweetness I used maple syrup which makes a nice change. This quantity makes enough for 2 or 3 people to have as a side with say, fish or as part of a larger picky type meal.

A salad of Broad beans, white cabbage and toasted pumpkin seeds with a yogurt and maple dressing

You’ll need:

Half head white cabbage shredded finely and chopped

2-3 large carrots diced finely

500gr broad beans podded

100gr pumpkin seeds

For the dressing

2 tablespoon yogurt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Pinch salt

Black pepper

First of all make the dressing – whisk all the ingredients together. Check and correct the seasoning if necessary then set aside.

Pod the beans then steam until tender. Allow to cool then pop each bean out of its pod.

Toast the pumpkin seeds by placing with on a frying pan and toasting over a medium heat til they change colour.

To put the salad together. Toss the cabbage and carrot into a serving bowl. Top with the beans and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with a little of the dressing and serve the rest on the side.


Summer salad

It might be windy. It might even be rainy. But it is officially summer here in Dublin and salad is back on the menu at ours. Yay!!!! So, without further ado (it’s been a long day especially without Claire in the office and there’s a barbecue that’s just been lit calling me) here’s my suggestion for this week’s lovely broad beans, tomatoes and that gorgeous lettuce…. a salad with giant croutons. The croutons make it a bit more substantial than your average summer salad aswell as giving the whole thing a lot more chew which I really like.

Now these aren’t those croutons you buy in bags with weird powder on them these guys are homemade and all the better for it. I made mine with stale ciabatta I stashed in the freezer a few weeks ago (I love it when a plan comes together!) and I laced them with sumac. Sumac, if you’re not familiar with it, is a dark red lemony spice found in middle Eastern cooking which you’ll find in good delis or middle Eastern shops. I also threw in some feta (predictable? moi?) . The dressing was pretty simple – lemon and olive oil with a splash of balsamic for richness but I also added some crushed garlic for bite. A chive and sour cream omelette on the side and that was lunch. Yum.

The first (of many) summer salad with broad beans, vine tomatoes and  feta with sumac croutons

You’ll need:

1 Little Gem lettuce washed, dried with the larger leaves torn

300gr (a large handful) cherry vine tomatoes halved or quartered depending on the size or 2 large vine tomatoes chopped

500gr broad beans

100gr feta cheese

2 thick slices ciabatta crusts removed

olive oil for frying

For the dressing

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice half lemon

1 fat clove garlic

Balsamic vinegar

Maldon sea salt

A pinch of sugar

Make the croutons first by cutting the bread into large chunks. Heat some olive oil on the pan and when it’s hot, add the bread and fry until golden adding a little more oil if things start to dry out too much. Take off the pan and drain on kitchen paper while you get everything else ready.

Make the dressing by first smashing then finely chopping the garlic. Whisk it with oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, a dash of balsamic and a pinch of crushed Maldon and set aside.

Pod the beans then steam for about 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water then pop each one out of it’s skin. Toss the lettuce, beans, tomatoes and feta together with the dressing.

To finish things off, sprinkle each crouton with a little sumac and place on top of the salad. Bring to garden, sit and hopefully don’t have all the napkins blow away like we did last night! Lee was very confused…………


Have a brilliant weekend,


Broad Beans

June 30, 2011

broadbean and serrano ham salad

Broad beans this week, one of my absolute favourite summer varieties. You don’t need to do much, ham in all its guises works wondefully as do things like feta and sundried tomatoes. If you haven’t cooked them before it’s easy – pod them then steam for a few minutes til tender, cool then pop each bean out of its skin. Choose from either of the two salads below and lunch is ready in, ooh, 5 minutes. Easy.

Warm Salad of Broad Beans and Serrano Ham

You’ll need:

300-400gr broad beans cooked as described above

Olive oil

50gr serrano ham cut into strips or torn

6-8 mint leaves shredded (do this just before serving or it will discolour)

Toss the beans  in some olive oil in a hot wok or frying pan. Add the  ham and toss. Remove from heat and garnish with some fresh mint. Serve warm with some crusty bread.

Broad bean salad with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and salad leaves

You’ll need:

300-400gr broad beans cooked as described above

2 generous handfuls of salad leaves or more if you’re feeding more than 2

100gr feta cheese

6 large sundried tomatoes sliced or torn

The dressing

3 -4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sherry or white wine vinegar

A tiny pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper

Combine the beans with the salad leaves,  cheese and tomatoes. Mix the dressing ingredients together, taste then add more vinegar or salt if it needs it. Dress the salad then serve.


I’m really happy with this one. It’s a cous cous salad and, as you know, I make a lot of those. This one is different. No, really. Why? Instead of using plain old water to cook the grains I infused it with thyme and star anise and it rocked!!!! To be honest, I stole the idea from Dylan Mc Grath. I had an absolutely amazing dinner in Rustic Stone last week which included a whole sea bream they had on special. One of the things it came with was a kind of grain risotto. I asked what was in it and the waiter listed off about 10 things including thyme and star anise. These two struck me as the place to start (after all I don’t have 10 comis at my beck and call so simplicity tends to be key). All it took was sticking some thyme and a few star anise in the water I steamed the beans for the salad in then using that water to cook the cous cous. Genius.

Star anise, if you don’t know, it is a spice (that is actually star-shaped) that hails from China originally. Although they’re not related, it has the same flavour as anise due to the presence of something called anethole. It’s used all over Asia and is one of the spices in Chinese 5 spice which I’m a big fan of. I love it not least because it’s so pretty. In the past I’ve used it to decorate kitchen shelves, sticking it on with blu tack then leaving it to  send out random bursts of perfume (the state of my current kitchen and its shelves will not be mentioned this week but the end is in sight!!!!)

So, apart from all this spicy loveliness what else is in the salad? Well, first off there’s blood orange. It nearly the end of their season so I had to use them. Then we’ve got broad beans which I always think of as a high summer staple. The Spanish variety have been available for a while and I finally weakened and got some this week. I love broad beans. Some of my absolute favourite dishes are made with them. The root veg that we’ve had all winter are now on the wane and we’re at that crossover stage also known as “the hungry gap” . The Irish summer crops are still a way off (Marc Michel says a month or so for his stuff while we’ve already had the first of this year’s gorgeous baby leaves from the Healy’s) so we supplement our Irish stocks with some Spanish goodies. Finally there’s a generous measure of salty feta which just seems to set the whole thing off perfectly.

Star anise infused cous cous with broad beans, feta and blood oranges

You’ll need:                                                                                           

300gr broad beans shelled

3 star anise

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup whole meal cous cous 

100gr feta

1 blood orange peeled and cut into segments then sliced

Olive Oil

Peeled blood orange

Begin by podding the beans. I usually steam them and this time I added 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 3 star anise to the steaming water. The beans take about 2 minutes to steam then you add 2 cups of water to the liquid left over and gently heat it all up. Let the beans cool and while this is going on put the cous cous on a dry pan and begin toasting it over a medium heat until it turns golden. When the grains have changed colour, turn the heat down and add the liquid along with the star anise and thyme. Cook over a lowish heat until the liquid has been absorbed then turn off the heat. Continue stirring adding some olive oil so the grains don’t stick. Let the cous cous cool down while you prepare the other ingredients. Pop the beans out of their skins and then throw them into the cous cous along with the orange slices and the feta. Mix together and taste for seasoning. I didn’t add any salt because the feta seemed to give a big enough hit but you may want a little. We ate this sitting on the back door step in a blaze of sunshine. Roll on the summer!!!!!

I have a houseful of family visiting from overseas this weekend so I’m going to make this quick. We’ve just had lunch in the garden (with wine so my spelling may be worse than usual!!) and I’ve sneaked upstairs to send this. I made a salad with this week’s gorgeous new potatoes from Marc Michel along with our broad beans and red onions. I dressed it in olive oil and sherry vinegar with a little honey and wholegrain mustard for good measure. For a dose of salty intensity I  threw in some of those wrinkly black olives which I stoned and tore before tossing in.
We ate all this with some of our cherry vine tomatoes that I roasted over a low heat for about 6 hours. I just threw them in after breakfast with a little olive oil and salt. Normally I add a little sugar but they are so sweet at this time of year there’s really no need. Some baked feta, a plain green salad and crusty bread completed things.
As did a bottle of chilled Albarino……..
A summer salad of new potatoes, broad beans, olives and red onions
You’ll need:
1 kilo new potatoes
1/2 red onion (finely sliced)
a handful of black olives torn on half   
500gr broad beans 
The dressing:
6 tablespoons
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 level teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 level teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper
Wash (they don’t need peeling just a scrub) and cook the potatoes. I put them in cold water which I bring to the boil then it normally takes 10 – 15 minutes after that. If you have different sizes drop the bigger ones in first, wait a few minutes then add the smaller ones. Prepare the broad beans by podding then steaming them for about 3 minutes. When they’re cooked, allow them to cool down a bit then pop each bean out of its skin and set aside.
Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. When the potatoes are ready put them in a bowl and roughly chop the larger ones so they are all bite sized. Throw in the beans, onions and olives. Add the dressing and toss everything together. Taste then add a little more salt and/or vinegar if you think it needs it. Enjoy!!!
Gotta go – they’re pouring more wine!!
Have a great weekend,